In the wake of the Obama administration's announcement of expanded offshore drilling, the general liberal reaction has been, why? Not that liberals wouldn't trade offshore drilling for some carbon reductions. But why offer a pre-emptive concession?

Brad Plumer is one of the people wondering why, but unlike most of us, he has a possible answer:

Another possibility, meanwhile, is that this move isn't focused on the climate-bill debate and is geared more toward public opinion. According to the EIA, gas prices are expected to go up quite a bit this summer (probably shooting north of $3/gallon), and the administration may want to step out ahead of the inevitable teeth-gnashing and garment-rending over the issue. So this could be more about the midterms than rounding up votes in the Senate. Though, granted, this drilling announcement won't affect summer gas prices in the slightest.